Tuesday, February 1, 2011

American Soccer Fans Get on the Transfer Merry-Go-Round


Thus ends another "silly season" in European soccer. For us Americans there is hardly an equivalent in our other sports to the insanity of the rumors, speculation, and maddening amounts of money that are thrown around during the transfer window and particularly the closing days of it. The always brilliant Brian Phillips (of Run of Play fame) wrote for Slate.com during the summer transfer season:
"That's also the secret of transfer gossip. For all that soccer turns on discrete, actual events—goals scored, games won, contracts filed—its appeal also depends on its role as a kind of vast public daydream."
American soccer fans are just becoming accustom to the wonder, and terror, of the transfer periods. For years we looked on with bemusement that players and money danced around the world as players moved from team to team, country to country, and league to league.

But now, as American players ply their trade across the pond more and more frequently, they too are taking a spin on the transfer merry-go-round. And we, too, as fans are taken along for the ride.

This January we followed the saga of U.S. Men's National Team player Michael Bradley as he looked for a new home away from sinking German ship Borussia Mönchengladbach. As we wrote earlier Bradley's destination was all over the European map
from England's Sunderland to Galatasaray and Fenerbahce in Turkey before going on loan to Aston Villa.

American fans hung on nearly every blog post, tweet, and column inch (OK maybe there weren't that many of those) about the latest Bradley rumor. Many bit on the Galatasaray reports only for the Villa about-face hours later. By the end of yesterday only Baby Bradley holding up the claret and blue of the Villians ended the speculation.

We've been here before. Last year, and before he ended all the rumors of another move aboard, we played the "Where Will Landon Donovan Go?" game. This winter, beyond Bradley's movements, U.S. soccer fans saw the final day of the transfer window swing wide open for a few more Americans.

Jozy Altidore, who saw preciously little playing time at Spanish la Liga's Villarreal, moved to Turkish league defending champions Bursaspor. Eddie Johnson, also seeing little of the field for Fulham, moved to Preston North End and European vagabond Freddy Adu also dropped into Turkey, albeit a step below, for the second division's Çaykur Rizespor.

In fact, as FanHouse Soccer's Brian Straus points out, 12 of the 23 members of the 2010 World Cup squad have changed teams since this summer. With nearly each of these moves American soccer fans get to experience the same rumor, speculation, half-truths, and out-and-out mis-reporting just like our Euro fan friends.

Welcome to the big time American soccer fans! You know you've arrived on the global soccer stage when you get to participate in all the gut-wrenching, nail-biting, will-he-won't-he-drama that the rest of the world experiences twice yearly.

Pass the Tums.

Photo Credit: AVFC.com

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